Accident/Injury Report • Baby Tooth Survey


Accident/Injury Report

Was the injury the result of an accident?
              I didn’t see it happen. I did not know yet how to reach back and wrench
              two people apart by the hips. I did not know what to do with my hands.

When was the onset of the injury?
              The South African military dismantled the last of its nuclear weapons.
              Bundy got the chair. An ayatollah’s death shroud was torn to relic and
              men leapt into his grave. How did the injury occur?
              For too long I did not listen to the bees’ nest in my brain. That furious
              Latin, spill of syntax. Failure of the tongue.

Where did the injury occur?
              In the bathtub. The bedroom. Always inside the house, always close to

Where on your body?
              The marrow. Box cutter in my palm. My thighs. The soles of my feet.

What was the nature of injury sustained?
              I can tell you the nature of the symptoms. Heart clenched in the throat or
              between teeth. A humming in the hands. Bruised knees. Tongue laved
              repeatedly over salt.

When did the symptoms first appear?
              Golden toads disappeared from history. The Berlin Wall fell. For the first
              time we asked ourselves, if disease is caused by damaged genes, why not
              replace them?

Were there any witnesses?
              I didn’t see. I did not know yet. I did not know.

Baby Tooth Survey

for Jini Maxwell

they age us by our fall
teeth: we were born

long after the fissure. hairline lilt of sea
lichen, a mouth full
of benthic parnassus. our bicuspids said

the shoreline, though sheltered,
was not enough to keep us clean.

              millstone in marrow, sponge
              -soft, cumbers to sarcoma. its half-life exceeds
              our expectancy.

              bone seeker,
              you never told me
              exactly what science took from us.

                           someone strips dental consonants
                           from our first language. someone culls
                           our syntax to extinction. we

                           cut eyeteeth on dead coral, amanita gills. your sleight
                           of tongue trips, treads
                           empty alcove of my speech.

                                    your name incised in wrist of deciduous reef. this is where
                                    they buried them, once-traded: twice

                                    -traded they will turn to gold. this
                                    is where your bones lay

                                    against my bones.

About the author

Shastra Deo is a poet, editor, and PhD student living in Brisbane. Her first book, The Agonist (UQP 2017), won the 2016 Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize, the 2018 ALS Gold Medal, and is secretly about Bucky Barnes.


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